MONTGOMERY — Alabamians won’t be able to get wine delivered to their homes anytime soon, but wet counties and municipalities can now have Sunday sales without going through the Legislature.
There were several alcohol-related bills in the 2019 legislative session that ended last month. Here’s what passed and what didn’t.
Sunday Sales for Wet Counties and Municipalities
Legislation sponsored by Rep. Reed Ingram, R-Mathews, allows local county commissions or municipalities within a wet county to permit and regulate Sunday sales for alcohol through resolutions or ballot referendums without first having to go through the Legislature.
Reed said he saw this as an economic development issue for counties and municipalities. There are now 42 wet counties in the state, according to the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.
“It gives you three ways of doing it now,” Reed told Alabama Daily News. “You can do it through a vote of the people, they can vote it through on their city council or bring it back to (the Legislature) and let us make the decision. It just gives more flexibility for those counties that are seeing big box stores come there and is going in to make the process move a little faster.”
House Bill 168 has been signed by Gov. Kay Ivey.
Craft Breweries and Entertainment Districts
Senate Bill 276, sponsored by Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, and Neil Rafferty, D-Birmingham, allows craft breweries and businesses that have an in-house tap room to participate in an entertainment district. In specified entertainment districts, patrons are allowed to carry open drinks.
It has been sent to the governor for signature.
House Bill 46 from Rep. Chris England, allows on-premise retail licensed bars to produce, store and sell infused products made from distilled spirits for on-site consumption.
It has been sent to the governor.
The cities of Mountain Brook and Hoover will now be able to start selling alcohol on Sundays at 10 a.m. thanks to bills from Sen. Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills. The governor has signed both.
WHAT DIDN’T PASS
Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, sponsored a bill, HB 350, that would allow people to ship wine directly to their homes.
It was passed by the House but never made it to the Senate floor after Waggoner issued a resolution to create a task force to study wine shipments in the state. Collins told Alabama Daily News that the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board withdrew its support from her bill once that resolution was passed.
Collins said she was irritated to see her bill die but plans to sponsor it every year until it passes.
“It was very frustrating to see the support in the House and then not get it even heard in the Senate,” Collins said. “I accepted a compromise from the ABC and thought I had their support, which they then withdrew. I thought this was a very good bill and I made a lot of compromises that I don’t plan on making next year when I bring this bill back up again.”
Some of the compromises Collins accepted changed the limit of cases monthly from two cases per person to one case per household and added a $200 application fee for the manufactures and a $50 reapplication fee.
“Our alcohol laws are just so bizarre in this state,” Collins said. “They are piecemealed together, so I was extremely disappointed to see my bill fail when I had worked so hard to accept so many amendments and compromises from people in order to make it work.”
Bills From Nordgren
Multiple alcohol-related bills from Rep. Becky Nordgren, R-Gadsden, died during the session.
House Bill 151 would have removed the requirement that a brewpub has to be located in a historical or economically distressed area and operate a restaurant or otherwise provide food. It also would have increased the limit on how much beer a brewpub may produce annually.
House Bill 542 would have allowed places with on-site tasting rooms to not only sell the alcoholic beverages they make on-site but also sell other beverages made by manufacturers in the state.